Covid-19 is changing the education sector and accelerating its transformation. In this blog, you’ll learn how this is happening and how educators and parents like you can prepare students for these extraordinary changes. Below are 5 major shifts happening in education that we need to be ready for.
1) Online learning is here to stay
Even before Covid, high school students in Ontario were required to complete two mandatory online courses before graduation. In the future, online learning may comprise 50% or more of a child’s education, particularly at the high school level. And as VR (virtual reality) and other technologies become mainstream, students will be able to engage with teachers and other learners in a virtual classroom setting. VR will therefore change how students learn and how teachers teach, while saving money on having to manage, build, and maintain schools and physical spaces. Education is going digital and virtual. Welcome to the new age.
2) College Degrees will become redundant
This is already true for many graduates. A bachelors degree today is worth what a high school diploma used to be 30 years ago, and an MA is like a BA. Having a degree doesn’t guarantee you a job let alone job security. This is because knowledge is no longer a commodity! Anyone can learn anything, from anywhere, at anytime provided they have an internet connection. Rather, it’s what you do with knowledge and how you apply it that matters. This requires certain soft skills students must develop. In fact, a growing list of companies like Apple, IBM, EY, and Google don’t care if you have a degree and will train you on the job.
The new reality: a degree will no longer be a students entry way into the workforce. Instead degrees will be replaced by micro-credentials and certifications in specific niche areas with the exception of subjects like law or medicine. If you’re a parent with a child in high school you might be wondering: is the $20-50 thousand dollars I’m about to spend per year on my child’s university education worth the investment? It’s already debatable.
3) Subjects taught in school will change
The education system teaches students how to memorize, analyze, and retain information. Much of it is based on rote memory and content knowledge. The problem is that remembering stuff is not a valuable skill anymore. We have computers for that. Employers are therefore not looking for graduates with degrees and high GPA scores, but rather, graduates with grit, initiative, collaboration and communication skills, creativity, and problem solving skills. This discrepancy between what schools teach and what employers actually want has created a ‘skills gap.’ For universities and high schools to remain relevant long term, they will have to focus on skills development, particularly soft skills. Subjects like communication, emotional intelligence, and growth mindset will become part of future curriculums alongside subjects like math, history, English, and science.
4) The concept of work and ‘career’ is changing
Gone are the days where you have a steady job in one field and climb the career ladder. Today’s students will have many careers and will have to pivot many times to adapt to disruption. They will have to be lifelong learners who constantly retool and up-skill. And as technology and the pace of disruption accelerates, the gig economy will continue to flourish allowing professionals to work on short term projects remotely, rather than in long term positions in traditional offices. Once again, this will require soft skills like adaptability and the ability to handle uncertainty.
5) Why people work is changing
60-70 years ago, a job was a pay-check and nothing more. You had your work, and you had your life – and these were two separate realities. Since then a job has evolved into the aspiration to have a ‘career’. The dream of rising up the career ladder to become the CEO or CFO in a company.
That’s no longer the case today. For this next generation, having a career is out, and having a “purpose” is in. Its all about purpose and passion; working in a job you love that connects to a deeper sense of meaning and value. Young professionals today want purpose in their jobs more then a fat pay check. This is evidenced in how young consumers care more about a company’s values and corporate social responsibility platform then they do about its product or service. They want to know that companies and brands align with their own values, mission and purpose.
All these changes are real and undeniable. And its the schools, parents and students who will adapt to these changes that will ultimately stand out, succeed, and lead. We therefore need to supplement our education system with courses that teach students soft skills, even though these skills are much harder to quantify.